Outdoor Health Benefits.

By Posted in - Get Outdoors on November 3rd, 2014

It’s a good thing animals don’t behave like humans. Otherwise life as we know it would be vastly different. Few of us, for example, would be able to sleep at night too worried about drunken cows sneaking into our bedrooms and tipping us out of our beds. Or deer would be jamming tattoo shops getting heart tattoos that read “Doe.”

Conversely, humans could vastly improve their lives if they added more “wildlife” into their routines by getting outdoors. The health benefits of nature – or forest baths as the Japanese like to say – are staggering. Scientific studies have proven that exposure to nature – forests, oceans, lakes, rivers, meadows – delivers more benefits than most neighborhood pharmacies.

And Mom Nature in a lab coat charges nothing.

Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Getting Outdoors

  • Exposure to nature – a hike through a park, photographs of a forest, running on a beach – can improve attention and memory.
  • Sunlight exposure boosts white blood cell counts, one of the body’s fiercest defense forces against disease.
  • The earthy scent of pines and firs lowers blood pressure.
  • Studies have proven that when surrounded by nature the body produces less amounts of the hormone cortisol, which ignites the body’s stress alert system. High stress not only jacks blood pressure, but it also shrivels the hippocampus, the brain’s memory vault. In turn, less stress improves the brain’s cognitive abilities.
  • Regular sun exposure has been shown to decrease cholesterol levels by more than 30 percent.
  • Natural light helps monitor the body’s melatonin levels which controls sleep patterns. Insufficient exposure alters melatonin levels, heaving sleep rhythms out of whack. Poor sleeping habits have been linked to cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
  • Sunlight produces Vitamin D, which augments calcium absorption during eating. This in turns helps produce stronger, denser bones.
  • A walk through a forest compared to a walk through an urban setting decreases heart rates by 5.8 percent.
  • A University of Kansas study showed that after four days in the backcountry subjects scored 50 percent higher on tests measuring creativity than those who remained indoors.

Additional Motivation for Spending Time Outdoors

If the health benefits of a hike or a camping trip aren’t motivating enough to get you to relinquish your screen obsession, ask yourself what will you remember 10, 20 or 30 years from now? Will you remember your Grand Theft Auto score, or the impossible sunset you witnessed? Will you remember the Breaking Bad video marathon you watched, or the wildlife you spied padding through the forest?

What gets you outside? Share your views with us?

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